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PFT's Week Two picks

[Editor’s note:  Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head,
picking the winner of each game.  The guy who does worse each week gets
to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week.  Last week, we tied.  The NBC Competition Committee decided that I should have to copy and paste it all together again.  And so I’ll take the high road and accept the ruling.  In three days, after everyone applauds me for taking the high road, I’ll bitch about it on the radio.]

[UPDATE:  As it turns out, we didn’t tie.  Rosenthal won.  And I should have kept my damn mouth shut when I realized that he’d counted his victories incorrectly.]

Bills at Packers

Florio’s take:  In Week Two of the 2009 season, the Packers hosted an AFC team, and the AFC team stole a win.  In Win Two of the 2010 season, another AFC team comes to town.  But there’s a big difference between last year’s Bengals and this year’s Bills.  Even with Packers running back Ryan Grant done for the year, Green Bay has too much talent — and the Bills don’t have nearly enough.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Bills 19.

Rosenthal’s take: This reminds me of the blowout specials Florio used to get to pick last year when we split the workload.  You could try to make a case for the Bills, but you’d be trying too hard.  Buffalo doesn’t have the receiver depth to test Green Bay’s secondary.  The Bills’ three-headed running game was oddly underused last week.  Their screens were predictable.  Holes closed on C.J. Spiller a lot faster than they did at Clemson or in the preseason.  Don’t expect daylight this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Bills 10.

Dolphins at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The Vikings’ offense and the Dolphins’ defense cancel each other out.  So this one will come down to the ability of the Minnesota defense to bottle up the Miami offense.  Given that the Bills were able to keep the attack largely in check last week, the Vikings should have no problems shutting them down.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Dolphins 12.

Rosenthal’s take: Miami’s defense was impressive in Buffalo.  Mike Nolan did a lot of fun things with Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake; they can get pressure on Brett Favre. Even short a few players, this is an improved linebacker group.  Favre also may not be ready to take advantage of a Dolphins secondary that features Benny Sappy a little too prominently.  There’s an old axiom that you shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless you think they can win. 5.5 points feels like too much.  So let’s just go all the way and take the Dolphins in an upset special.  (I changed this pick at the last minute, which is the kiss of death.)  [Editor’s note:  Hey, Rosey, if you’re gonna pick the upset, just pick the upset and be done with it.]

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Vikings 21.

Chiefs at Browns

Florio’s take:  With former Patriot Scott Pioli running the Chiefs and former Patriot turncoat Eric Mangini coaching the Browns, this one carries a strong undercurrent of hostility.  Then there’s the fact that Browns running back Jerome Harrison shredded the K.C. defense for 286 yards last December.  Look for the new-look Chiefs to bring their new attitude to Ohio, and to send the Browns to a loss in the second of two games that most expected Cleveland to win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Browns 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Remember all the positive energy in Kansas City on Monday night?  Imagine that, but the complete opposite happening in Cleveland if the Browns fall behind Sunday.  Jake Delhomme’s injury doesn’t hurt the Browns, though.  Seneca Wallace is different, and could force the Browns coaches to get creative with a roster that begs for creativity to make up for a lack of talent.  Eric Mangini can’t afford to lose the Belichick B-team Bowl after last week’s collapse in Tampa.  Romeo Crennel knows just how to lose in Cleveland.

Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 17, Chiefs 14.

Bears at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  The Bears lucked into a win at home and the Cowboys squandered a victory of their own on the road.  This week, the Cowboys head back to Dallas, 25 years after the Bears authored a 44-0 beatdown of the ‘Boys.  The Bears haven’t won in Big D since the year after that game — and their streak of futility will continue.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Bears 10.

Rosenthal’s take: No clue what to make of the Bears after last week.   Jay Cutler moved the ball very well, Matt Forte is revived, and the defense stuffed Detroit all day.  Yet they still needed a lucky call to save them from an opening loss at home.  The Cowboys are easier to read.  Their offensive line has problems and they know it.  The defense is great.  Will the return of two injured, older starting lineman be enough to turn things around?  It’s enough this week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

Florio’s take:  The Cards barely beat a still-bad Rams team last week, and the Falcons gave fits to the Steelers on their home field.  Atlanta realizes that the window will close quickly if they can’t keep pace with the Saints.  Besides, Falcons are far more menacing birds.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Cardinals 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Arizona fans complaining about style points last week need to get a grip.  Kurt Warner has left the building.  This is a different Cardinals team, and they are going to have to win creatively while Derek Anderson figures things out. The guy led two impressive fourth-quarter drives last week and that will do for now.  Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball since the preseason.  I think Atlanta’s improved defense carries the day here.  Both these teams deserve to be 1-1. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 19, Cardinals 14. 

Buccaneers at Panthers

Florio’s take:  Since 2003, the Panthers have handled the Bucs on 11 of 14 occasions.  Though Tampa pulled off a minor surprise on Sunday against the Browns, the Panthers can be expected to take care of business on their own turf.  If they can’t, Carolina could be 0-5 at the bye.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 14.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs have a golden opportunity to go 2-0, even if Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore plays as expected despite a concussion last week.  Raheem Morris has the Bucs defense looking improved, like they did at the end of last year.  These two similar teams fly well below the NFL radar and got against current league norms.  They want to win with running, defense, and not screwing things up too badly passing the ball.  John Fox has more practice.  And better running backs. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.

Eagles at Lions

Florio’s take:  With Mike Vick making his first start since 2006, the question becomes whether he can play like he did against the Packers, who weren’t prepared to face him, when facing a Lions team that knows Vick will be the guy.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz never has had to defend Vick; when Schwartz served as defensive coordinator for the Titans, Schwartz’s team was the last one to play the Falcons before Vick returned from a broken leg.  Look for Schwartz to try to keep Vick in the pocket in the hopes that he’ll be forced to throw — and that he’ll force a few mistakes.  And then Kevin Kolb will get “healthy” quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Eagles 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The battle of the tortured fan bases.  The rest of the world learned about what it meant to be a Lions fan this week.  Week One, full of hope, they lost their young franchise quarterback and a game in the most painful way possible.  The Lions have a vertical passing attack with the weakest-armed quarterback in the league in Shaun Hill.  Eagles fans have it pretty good, but they like drama.  They talked up Kevin Kolb all offseason, then gave up on him after 30 minutes.  It’s hard to blame them after the way Michael Vick played last week.  Vick will put it to the Lions just to make this whole situation more ridiculous.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16.

Ravens at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bengals somehow swept the Ravens last year.  It won’t be happening again in 2010.  Baltimore looks as good as they ever have looked, and the Bengals looked nothing like they looked a year ago.  Look for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis to continue to drop the hammer on anyone who looks in his direction.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bengals 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bengals defense said they were confused early against the Patriots.  So were guys like Tedy Bruschi that picked Cincinnati to go to the Super Bowl.  At least the Bengals passing attack showed signs of life after the early disaster.  It may have been garbage time, but Carson Palmer couldn’t put up big stats any time last year.  Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has the weapons to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 23.

Steelers at Titans

Florio’s take:  Last year, these two teams kicked off a season that many assumed would end in a playoff rematch.  Neither qualified for the postseason.  This year, both look like they’re on their way to another trip to January.  It all comes down to the Steelers defense against the Titans offense, and the Steelers defense is simply too tough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Titans 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans were my pick to win the AFC South in the PFT Season Preview, so I’m basically going to take them at home unless they are facing the ’85 Bears.  The Steelers defense isn’t at that level, but it could wind up being the best in 2010.  Pittsburgh can neutralize Chris Johnson — they held him to 57 yards in last year’s opener.  So it will come down Vince Young versus Dennis Dixon and Young should be up for the challenge. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 14, Steelers 10.

Seahawks at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who was essentially run off when Josh McDaniels became the head coach, returns to town with a team that unexpectedly won in Week One by 25 points.  But it’s one thing to put a pasting on the 49ers at home in the season opener, it’s quite another to do it in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: These teams that are a total mystery, especially the Seahawks.  Can Seattle play so inspired without the 12th man?  What is this team good at precisely?  It looks like Pete Carroll is going to make this defense better and more interesting.  The offense has work to do.  In Denver, I know what I’m getting from Kyle Orton and his band of merry secondary receivers.  The Broncos can beat suspect NFC West teams at home.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 28, Seahawks 21.

Rams at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Rams looked better than expected in Week One; the Raiders looked far worse.  But Oakland is at home and the Rams are still learning how to win.  Though neither team will be embarrassed, look for the Raiders to take care of business in the Black Hole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 17, Rams 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The optimism stops here for one of these teams. The Raiders wouldn’t be able to sell progress after a blowout loss on the road and a home loss to the Rams.  Sam Bradford has given the Rams hope for the future, but the present looks awfully bleak if they go 0-2 with a soft opening schedule.  Two Raiders, including Jason Campbell, alluded to being overconfident heading into the Titans game.  You know, because of their draft grades.  Losing 11 or more games for seven years hasn’t humbled this franchise.  Maybe losing to the Rams will. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 21, Raiders 17.

Texans at Redskins

Florio’s take:  The reunion of the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak adds intrigue to a game that suddenly has become one of the best of the weekend give the teams’ performances in Week One.  We’ll quickly find out whether Houston tailback Arian Foster rolled up all those yards because he played against a bad run defense or because the Texans have become the ultimate “pick your poison” pass/run attack.  And we’ll find out whether the Redskins’ offense can score a touchdown or two without having it handed to them.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Redskins 24.

Rosenthal’s take: Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak are road favorites coming off a huge win. This is exactly the game they usually trip over, which worries me. Also worrisome:  Every aspect of the Redskins offense except their tackle play.  (How odd is that?)  Washington just doesn’t have enough firepower to hang with Houston, who should give Arian Foster a break and only rush him 25 times this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Redskins 17.

Patriots at Jets

Florio’s take:  During an offseason of incessant Jets chirping, the Patriots have remained largely silent.  Apart from Tom Brady’s acknowledgement that he hates the Jets, the Pats have avoided the trash talk.  Instead, the Patriots have saved it for the field, and the Jets may have a hard time saving themselves as the Pats make the only kind of statement that truly matters in football.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Jets 13.

Rosenthal’s take: What goes up in the NFL usually comes down. And vice versa.  An overconfident team loses one week, gets ripped, and plays hungry the next time out.  Last year, Rex Ryan called the Jets’ Week Two game against the Patriots the team’s Super Bowl.  This one is far more important.  The Jets know they can’t go 0-2 at home to start the year. The Jets defense still looks great. The offense can find a way on the ground.  Don’t crown the Patriots yet; this will be a season-long battle.



Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 16.

Jaguars at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Most expected one of these teams to be 1-0 and the other to be 0-1; few expected that the Jaguars would be undefeated and that the Chargers would be winless.  Though it may feel like a home game for the Jaguars since the stadium will be partially empty (rim shot!), the Chargers have the horses to get back to 1-1 against a Jaguars team that overachieved against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Jaguars 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The Chargers talked all offseason about avoiding yet another slow start to the year, and then slogged through a loss in the Kansas City rain.  Weather should be more conducive to vertical passing in San Diego this week. I don’t trust either secondary or either pass rush, even if Aaron Kampman looks like a fine pickup.  I’ll take Philip Rivers in a shootout over David Garrard every time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Jaguars 26.
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Giants at Colts

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning has started 0-1 only three times in his 13-year career.  Only once, as a rookie in 1998, has Peyton Manning begun a season at 0-2.  This time around, Peyton takes an 0-1 mark into his second career game against his kid brother.  And more importantly than not going 0-2 to Peyton will be avoiding losing to Eli.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 31, Giants 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Both brothers have grown up a lot since the last Manning Bowl.  Peyton won a Super Bowl and did the United Way spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eli won a Super Bowl, got significantly better after the title, and adjusted his Southern fraternity mop top.  That makes this a fair fight, especially if the Giants pass rush has truly reawakened.  Fair, but not equal.  Peyton is still the one with MVPs and Peyton doesn’t start the year 0-2.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 34, Giants 30.

Saints at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Rarely if ever has a team with high expectations imploded as quickly as the 49ers.  They open their home schedule with a visit from the Saints, who will have had the longest possible non-bye-week time to prepare for the game, playing on a Thursday and next on the following Monday, 11 days later.  After the game, Niners coach Mike Singletary will be thanking Sean Payton in the same way Singletary thanked Pete Carroll.  

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, 49ers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Weirdly dangerous game for the Saints against an ornery 49ers team.  New Orleans fans don’t like that I questioned their run defense this week, but one game doesn’t erase all of last season and a shaky linebacker group.  Luckily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t have to get too creative to stop Alex Smith and the 49ers passing attack.  Load up the box, and dare Smith to beat you.  The Saints are in Payton/Brees version 5.0.  The essentially can do anything they choose with a veteran group of receivers.  The 49ers can’t get the play calls in on time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 27, 49ers 21.

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Rams rookie Cooper will miss time with shoulder injury

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (10) makes a catch as Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) defends during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) AP

Rams Coach Jeff Fisher told reporters Sunday that Rams rookie wide receiver Pharoh Cooper has a shoulder injury and “will miss a few weeks.”

With two weeks until the season opener, that probably means Cooper will miss at least some time in the regular season. Cooper was injured during the Rams’ preseason game Saturday night in Denver.

Cooper has two catches for 30 yards and a touchdown this preseason. An early entry to the 2016 draft, Cooper went to the Rams in the fourth round, at pick No. 117.

Fisher also said cornerback E.J. Gaines has a quad strain and is likely to miss some time.

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A.J. Green says he’s “fine,” just upset he had to leave game

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Getty Images

A.J. Green gave the Bengals and Bengals fans a scare in the first quarter of Sunday night’s preseason game in Jacksonville when the Pro Bowl wide receiver limped off with what appeared to be a non-contact knee injury.

Trainers looked at Green’s right knee, but the Bengals quickly announced the injury was nothing major and that Green could have returned if it had been a regular season game.

In the third quarter, Green did a sideline interview with NBC’s Michelle Tafoya and said he’s not worried about the knee.

“I think I came down on it…just banged knees,” he said. “I’m fine. It sucks because I wanted to play a little bit longer.

“It’s not serious at all. I’m fine now.”

The Bengals have had a miserable preseason on the injury front. It’s highly unlikely any of the team’s starters will play in the preseason finale as the Bengals try to get healthy — and keep their starters away from further potential harm.

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Cedric Peerman becomes latest Bengals player to suffer injury

Cedric Peerman AP

Bengals running back Cedric Peerman immediately left the game and was treated on the sideline after being dragged down by his left arm by Jaguars cornerback Davon House in the second quarter of Sunday night’s game.

Trainers placed an air cast on Peerman’s arm.

Peerman went to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player last season. He’s been with the Bengals since 2010 and hasn’t missed a game in three seasons.

Earlier in the game the Bengals removed wide receiver A.J. Green after he came up limping after making a catch along the sideline. It’s been a brutal preseason for the Bengals on the injury front.

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PFT Live question of the day for Monday: Garoppolo or Prescott?

New England Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is hit by Carolina Panthers' Daryl Worley (26) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) AP

Monday’s PFT Live gets rolling, as it always does, at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio. Then, as it now does, the show slides to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET.

As part of the enhanced exposure, we’re trying to give the audience a question to ponder every day. With Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo expected to miss 6-10 weeks, here’s Monday’s question.

Which quarterback do you have more faith in as a short-term quarterback replacement: Jimmy Garoppolo or Dak Prescott?

Garropolo, in the event you’ve been out of the country for the past several months, will start the first four games of the season in place of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Answer the poll question below, drop a comment or two below that, and then tune in on Monday. Guests include former 49ers assistant (and former Browns and Jets head coach) Eric Mangini, Rodney Harrison of NBC’s Football Night in America, and NBC Sports Medicine Analyst Mike Ryan.

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How will teams represented on Competition Committee handle new touchback rule?

kickoff Getty Images

At a time when plenty of coaches and other league personnel believe that the new touchback rule will result in more, not fewer, kickoff returns, a separate question arises regarding the manner in which teams whose coaches, General Managers, and/or owners have spots on the Competition Committee will adjust.

The committee currently consists of Falcons president Rich McKay, Giants co-owner John Mara, Cowboys executive V.P. Stephen Jones, Packers president Mark Murphy, Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome, Texans G.M. Rick Smith, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, Broncos G.M. John Elway, and NFL senior adviser Tom Coughlin (awkward, given Mara’s presence on the committee).

Already, Jones has admitted that he’ll have the “conversation” with coach Jason Garrett about ensuring that the adjustment of the touchback from to 20 to the 25 has the desired effect. And the Bengals, led by Lewis, have been kicking it deep on Sunday night in Jacksonville.

When the games that count begin, it’ll be interesting to see how the Falcons, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Texans, Bengals, Cardinals, and Broncos handle both kicking off and opting to take a knee. If the rule change boomerangs, it ultimately makes the committee look bad for believing that the change would reduce the so-called “most dangerous play” in the game. The most dangerous play becomes a little less dangerous if the teams with representatives on the Competition Committee deliberately ignore the question of whether it makes more sense to kick it short and/or to try to run it out from the front of the end zone.

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A.J. Green, Adam Jones sustain injuries in Jacksonville

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 12:  A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the football upfield during the game against Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The top priority for preseason play continues to be this: Stay healthy enough to play in the regular season.

On Sunday night in Jacksonville, a pair of key Bengals failed to stay healthy.

Cornerback Adam Jones and receiver A.J. Green each have suffered leg injuries in the team’s Week Three preseason game against the Jaguars. The injury to Jones happened prior to the start of the game, in a innocuous-looking drill near the sideline. After backpedaling, Jones came up limping. He is out of uniform and not playing.

Green suffered a leg injury during the game itself. He tried to keep playing after developing a noticeable limp, before exiting the game.

The Bengals say Green’s injury isn’t serious, and that he’d stay in the game if it were a game that counts. Then again, Tony Romo’s injury supposedly wasn’t serious, either.

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Bernard gets quick score for Bengals

Carolina Panthers v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Bengals only needed three plays to turn a turnover into a touchdown in Sunday night’s preseason game vs. the Jaguars.

After Vincent Rey recovered a fumble by T.J. Yeldon on the game’s first series, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw a screen pass to running back Giovani Bernard that went for a 19-yard touchdown.

Bernard picked up blocks from Clint Boling and C.J. Uzomah, cut inside and basically waltzed into the end zone.

The Bengals have dominated on both sides early. They moved into Jaguars territory on their second series too before stalling due to penalties.

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Chiefs announce eight roster cuts

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 16: Detailed view of Kansas City Chiefs helmets on the sidelines before the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 16, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 15-0. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs made eight roster cuts Sunday as they move towards Tuesday’s deadline to trim their roster to 75 players.

Waived by the team Sunday were wide receivers Seantavius Jones and Kashif Moore; defensive backs Bryce Cheek and Malcolm Jackson; defensive lineman Niko Davis; linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi and offensive linemen Drew Nowak and Curtis Feigt.

Massaquoi was a fifth-round pick of the Falcons in 2012 and has played in 39 career games. Nowak has prior experience with the Seahawks and Jaguars, and Jones played in three games for the Saints last season.

Final cuts to the regular season roster size of 53 are due by Sept. 3.

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Bill O’Brien “pleased” with where Brock Osweiler is right now

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) AP

The Texans are a couple of weeks away from their first regular season game with Brock Osweiler at quarterback and the team is happy with the way things have gone in the preseason.

Assuming he sits on Thursday, Osweiler closed out the exhibition season by going 11-of-13 for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in a 34-24 victory. One of the incompletions was a drop by rookie wide receiver Will Fuller, who had a good day otherwise with three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Osweiler also had success throwing to Braxton Miller and DeAndre Hopkins before handing the offense over to Tom Savage in a game that left coach Bill O’Brien feeling good about the man the Texans signed to run his offense.

“I thought Brock went in there and managed the offense well,” O’Brien said. “Made some good throws. I was pleased. He’s made a lot of progress. Improved every day. Easy guy to coach. Pleased with where he is right now.”

Osweiler’s done better each week during the preseason and said after the game that his confidence is growing every time out, which is the kind of trajectory you’d expect to see from a player gaining a better understanding of the offense. Should that trend continue, the Texans will like their chances of opening the year with a home win over the Bears.

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Report: 49ers likely to jettison Kaepernick, for football reasons

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, left, and Blaine Gabbert stand on the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

Colin Kaepernick has suddenly become the most controversial player in the NFL because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem. But there may be another issue that could cost him his job in San Francisco: He’s not a very good quarterback.

Jay Glazer said on FOX that the 49ers are deeply concerned with Kaepernick’s decline as a player, which started last season when he struggled before getting benched, then got even worse this offseason when he lost significant muscle mass when he couldn’t work out following multiple surgeries.

“Regardless of politics or not, he has a very, very big uphill battle to make this team,” Glazer said. “I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends. It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever. He lost a ton of weight this offseason, had three surgeries, couldn’t work out, lost that double threat, that size-speed ratio. No political views, he just hasn’t been effective. He’s regressing as a player. I’d be shocked if he’s on this roster by the end of this year. He may not be on it in the next two weeks.”

Kaepernick’s contract guarantees him an $11.9 million salary this season, and ordinarily a player with an $11.9 million guaranteed salary isn’t going to get cut. But if the 49ers really think Kaepernick has regressed to the point where they’d be better off with Blaine Gabbert starting and Christian Ponder and Jeff Driskel backing Gabbert up, then they can save a little money by cutting Kaepernick and hoping he signs with another team, as they would be able to reduce that $11.9 million by the amount of Kaepernick’s salary with a new team.

So there are football reasons that the 49ers might want to get rid of Kaepernick. At this point, they probably wish they had done so before this weekend’s non-football controversy.

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Rueben Randle, Chris Givens headline first wave of Eagles cuts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 27: Frankie Williams #46 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a tackle against Rueben Randle #82 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter of a preseason NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Rueben Randle said last week that he feels he gets “read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort.”

He’ll need to prove his effort level somewhere other than Philadelphia. Randle, whose inconsistency and perceived inattention to detail were problems during his years with the Giants, was among the players cut from the Eagles roster on Sunday as they dropped to 73 players.

He wasn’t the only veteran receiver bounced in the cutdown. Chris Givens was also given a pink slip, leaving both veterans out of work months after signing with the Eagles. Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor and Paul Turner are among the nine wideouts still on the roster.

The Eagles also parted ways with long snapper John DePalma, cornerback Randall Evans, offensive lineman Andrew Gardner, defensive tackle Mike Martin, safety Nick Perry and cornerback Denzel Rice. Linebacker Joe Walker and defensive end Alex McCalister were both placed on injured reserve.

All teams have to be down to 75 players by Tuesday’s deadline, leaving the Eagles in position to add players while other teams are dropping them in the next couple of days.

 

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Kaepernick: Liberty, freedom and justice are not happening for all

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, greets Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the end of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Green Bay won 21-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) AP

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the playing of the national anthem before games this year was the main topic in the 49ers locker room on Sunday as Kaepernick provided further explanation for that decision.

Kaepernick pointed to police brutality against people of color and said people are “not being held accountable” for their actions. He also criticized both of the major party candidates for president — “You have Hillary [Clinton] who’s called black kids, black teens ‘super predators.’ You have [Donald] Trump who’s openly racist” — while speaking for about 20 minutes on Sunday.

“Ultimately it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country,” Kaepernick said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. “There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for, that’s something that needs to change. That’s something, that, this country stands for liberty, freedom, justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now. … I’ll continue to sit. I’m continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change, and when there’s significant change and I feel that that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people in the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Kaepernick also addressed one of the frequent criticisms of his stand by saying that his decision to sit during the anthem is not a sign of disrespect for those that have served the United States in the military.

“I have great respect for our men and women that fought for this country,” Kaepernick said. “I have family, I have friends that have fought for this country. And they fight for freedom. They fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. And that’s not happening. I mean, people are dying in vain because this country is not holding its end of the bargain up as far as giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody. It’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances, where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for. On our land. That’s not right.”

Kaepernick’s meeting with the media came after 49ers players held a meeting that saw Kaepernick address his teammates. Center Daniel Kilgore said he “took offense” to Kaepernick’s actions before Friday’s game, but after listening to his teammate said “I do stand with Kap when he says enough is enough against crime, violence, discrimination and racism.”

Others are sure to continue to share their disagreements with Kaepernick’s point of view as they have over the last few days, which is their right just as it is Kaepernick’s to be on the other side of the issue. That’s something worth appreciating about this country wherever you might fall on the spectrum.

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Devon Still facing likely fine for knocking off Carson Palmer’s helmet

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith) AP

In Sunday’s Cardinals-Texans game, Houston linebacker John Simon made an athletic play on a screen pass, tipping the ball, catching it, and exploding for a long return to the end zone for a score. The more significant moment from a play in an otherwise insignificant preseason game came immediately after the interception.

Texans defensive lineman Devon Still, drafted by the Bengals months after Palmer decided he no longer was playing for the team, applied a helmet-to-helmet hit on Palmer as he lunged to make the tackle of Simon. The hit sent Palmer’s helmet flying.

(A current Bengal would say Palmer simply should have just run his ass back to the sideline.)

Even when a quarterback decides to try to make a tackle after a turnover, he can’t be hit in the head or neck area or with the helmet. The move, which didn’t draw a penalty flag on Still, will likely nevertheless result in a fine being imposed.

Palmer’s sideline demeanor suggested that he chipped a tooth on the play. Coupled with a pair of interceptions in limited work, Palmer’s 2016 isn’t starting much differently than his 2015 ended.

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Devin Smith to reserve/PUP, Jets cut 11 other guys

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets celebrates with Devin Smith #19 of the New York Jets as he scores their second touchdown during the game against Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets stashed wide receiver Devin Smith on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, and cut 11 guys to get their roster down to 78 prior to Tuesday’s deadline to get to 75.

Smith wasn’t ready after tearing his ACL last December, but he didn’t look ready before then, either. The 2015 second-rounder only caught nine passes as a rookie.

Smith will miss the first six weeks of the regular season before he can be activated.

The Jets also released linebacker Deion Barnes, tackle Jesse Davis, center Kyle Friend, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, guard Jarvis Harrison, kicker Ross Martin, defensive lineman Helva Matungulu, running back Lache Seastrunk, tight end Jason Vander Laan, wide receiver Kyle Williams and running back Terry Williams.

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Carson Palmer done for day after two picks, hit to head

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 19:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks from the sidelines during the game with the San Diego Chargers during preseason at Qualcomm Stadium on August 19, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news for the Cardinals starting offense on Sunday is that they found the end zone for the first time in the preseason.

The bad news is that David Johnson’s touchdown run was sandwiched between a pair of Carson Palmer interceptions. Vince Wilfork tipped a ball that wound up in Andre Hal’s hands to end the first Arizona possession of the game and set up a Houston touchdown.

Interception No. 2 came on a great play by Texans linebacker John Simon to tip an attempted screen into the air before corralling it and rumbling 59 yards for a touchdown. That poor outcome was made worse when Palmer was drilled by Texans defensive lineman Devon Still after a futile attempt to stop Simon. The hit to the head left Palmer without a helmet and members of the Texans medical staff were looking at Palmer on the bench after Drew Stanton took over at quarterback on the next possession.

That’s likely the last that we’ll see of Palmer this preseason. If so, he’ll end the exhibition season 12-of-22 for 139 yards with three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. That line doesn’t wipe out memories of the NFC title game as opening night against the Patriots draws closer.

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